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February 18, 2011

Tom Salmon Won't Seek Reelection, Mulls Future

Local-salmon State Auditor Tom Salmon announced to his 3539 friends on Facebook last night that he won't seek reelection in 2012 — less than two months after he was sworn into a third term.

"I have enjoyed my service to the state but will not seek re-election as state auditor," Salmon wrote around 9 p.m. "It has been an honor to serve with such a talented team at the SAO (State Auditor's Office). Thank you all."

What's next for Salmon? He's not sure: Possibly a run for U.S. Senate, or dropping out of politics entirely and seeking a degree in mediation and conflict resolution.

"I will work where I can make a difference. We have transformed the auditors office and I am very proud of the staff and the work .  Politics may not be the future," wrote Salmon in an email to Seven Days.

In response to his Facebook post, several of his supporters are urging him to run for governor in 2012 against Democrat Peter Shumlin. His father, Thomas Salmon, was elected governor as a Democrat in 1972.

Salmon, first elected as a Democrat in 2006, switched parties in 2009 and became a Republican. He won reelection last fall against Doug Hoffer, a Democrat/Progressive.

For almost a year Salmon has mulled a run against U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT. Earlier this year he said he would announce his decision to run against Sanders by March 5.

Salmon told Seven Days via email the move is, "definately a  step for transparency." He said while the move help align him politically to run against Sanders, it could also end up being a "step out" not a step up.

"We have to evaluate very hard as a family at this stage. Members of the Progressive Party and other anonymous parties inflicted a fair amount of pain on the entire clan last year," said Salmon.

Salmon is referring to the efforts of John Franco, a Burlington attorney and longtime Progressive and close ally of Sanders, who successfully sued to have a videotape of Salmon's 2009 DUI stop made public. It was released just days before the November election. Franco was also a supporter of Salmon's challenger, Doug Hoffer.

Salmon believes Sanders could have done more to thwart Franco's efforts, and told him so in a letter the day after he won reelection last fall. He said Franco's release of the DUI tape "helped contribute to one of the most negative campaign seasons of recent history."

“As the highest ranking Progressive in the State of Vermont, it is incumbent upon you to answer whether you were aware of” Franco’s request, Salmon wrote to Sanders in a November 3 letter. “Was he acting on behalf of you? Could you please clarify your relationship with him because it has been reported to me that the two of you have a strong history and continue regular lunches and meetings."

Sanders failed to respond to Salmon's letter.

Sanders is a crook, he isn't going to respond to anyone, he can't he has one line and that's all he knows...1% blah blah control all the wealth blah blah blah.

Salmon....maybe a run against Shummy, but not Bernie. For whatever reason Comrade Sanders, despite his overwhelming failure as a Congressman, continues to be too popular for Salmon to be successful. Although, some of that popularity was lost with his despicable attmept to generate money by taking advantage of the AZ tragedy, that will be forgotten by the time 2012 rolls around. Douglas may have a shot at ousting the Mouth but no, not Salmon. Not unless there is a some unforeseen event.

If Salmon wants to run for Senate he has to give us a better reason than personal revenge on Bernie.

Three things:

- Tom Salmon was the one who inflicted pain upon his family when he drove drunk, not the Progressives and "other anonymous parties."

- What happens in a state auditor election is as much Bernie's responsibility as it is mine. Does that mean I need to tell Salmon whether or not I knew of Franco’s request?

- I think Salmon will run for governor or the US senate simply because he likes to play the blame game as much as every other politician. It's obvious that politics is where he belongs.

good thing he didn't get his wish for a 10-year auditor term (per the VPR debate this fall), or else he'd be stuck in a job he obviously doesn't like for a long, long time.

"Tom Salmon was the one who inflicted pain upon his family when he drove drunk, not the Progressives and 'other anonymous parties.'"

This logic is so broken I don't know where to start. Was it Salmon who went through extensive legal gyrations to get the tape of his arrest, then released it to the media?

On a related note, Franco ensured that his buddy Hoffer will NEVER get Salmon's job unless he runs uncontested. If the Dems want this seat, they better start looking for a (preferably CPA) candidate now.


i think the point is pretty simple: if salmon didn't drink and drive, he wouldn't have had all those problems. any other excuse furthers the decline of personal responsibility in society today.

he screwed up, therefore he faces the consequences, legal and otherwise.

Salmon took the consequences. He did his time, abstained from drinking and moved on with his life.

Franco decided he needed to dig up the tape to embarrass Salmon and try and score political points for his buddy Hoffer.

Now, is that Bernie's fault, no I don't believe it is unless there is some type of evidence that he was the one who told Franco to do it. Regardless it was a cheap and dirty political move. That's it, and Franco admitted as much after the election.

That said, Salmon can't beat Sanders, the State republican's need to find a better candidate then Salmon to put up against our little commie Congressman then Tom. I can't see anyone other then Douglas beating Sanders. Unless of course he continues his disgusting use of tragic events for poltical game. That will backfire eventually.

Having your opponent's representative sue for the arrest tape and releasing it to the media isn't a typical consequence of a DUI.

You and the handful of remaining Progs will obviously continue to try to defend it, but the stunt Franco pulled was a scumbag move, and given the results of the election, it would seem that a lot of thinking Vermonters agreed.

Driving drunk is a scumbag move. And when you commit a crime, especially one as dangerous as that, every part of that crime should be made public record ... especially when you're running for a public office and serving at the pleasure of the very same people whom you put in danger when you drove drunk in the first place. I don't call that progressive, I call that responsibility.

PS. The fact that Vermonters elected Salmon doesn't imply they thought Franco was a scumbag. To use your words, that logic is broken and assuming. He could have won for a number of reasons:

- you thought he was the lesser of two evils
- you thought he deserved a second chance
- you disagreed with Franco's tactics
- you didn't think DUIs were a deciding factor
- you voted down the party line
- you thought he was qualified

You have to have your arrest video broadcast on the local news a few nights before the election to accept responsibility for a DUI?

That's the kind of quality logic that lost Hoffer the election, and is quickly obsoleting the Progressive party. Keep it up.

That Franco cost Hoffer the election is one of the few things that I agree with Totten on - he predicted it, and he was right. Salmon won by a much wider margin than the polls from days earlier would have indicated. The "Franco fiasco" was the only thing that happened in the Auditor's race in the days leading up to the election. Do the math.

To answer your question, yes. I see nothing wrong with being held accountable in a public forum for such a crime. And especially yes when you're running for public office. (I thought accountability in politics was your forte?) But again, all Salmon had to do was not drive drunk in the first place. Keep trying to pass the blame, Jimmy.

"Keep trying to pass the blame, Jimmy."

Franco isn't to blame for Salmon's DUI. He is to blame for the impact that his utterly unnecessary shenanigans had on Salmon's family, and he is responsible for Hoffer's loss, because those were the only two consequences of his actions.

"[Franco] is to blame for the impact ... on Salmon's family"? That's funny. "Kids, now I know I drove drunk and that was a bad thing to do, but I'm sorry that you feel embarrassed by me. That's Franco's fault." Again, I thought accountability was your forte.

And you keep mentioning that Franco lost the election for Hoffer. All I can find is a VPR in mid-October listing Salmon leading Hoffer 38-34%, followed by Totten's 10/27 column saying "I thought Republican Tom Salmon had this one in the bag, but his challenger — political newcomer Doug Hoffer, who is running as a Democrat-Progressive — has made this a very competitive race. With a strong showing in a VPR poll and a Burlington Free Press endorsement, Hoffer is holding his own. It’ll be upstream all the way for Salmon, but he’ll net a win in the end." I'm wondering, if Salmon was in the lead all along, how Franco's involvement can be blamed for Hoffer's loss? Or am I missing a poll from early October that had Hoffer in the lead?

BB do you know what Salmon's BAC was?

What do you consider to be drunk? At what BAC does one become a danger and when does it become a scumbag move?

Also, adultery is still on the books, does that mean you would have been ok with Dubie holding an afternoon presser with a handful of adultresses to bring to light events in a public forum?

And is a 6.5% win vs an earlier 4% lead really a "much wider margin"? That VPR poll had a 4% margin of error.

Salmon's kids obviously knew about the DUI. They didn't need to see their dad in cuffs. No one did. It ultimately served no positive purpose.

That's right, the poll showed a four point spread. Hoffer lost by nine points, more than twice that.

"I suspect Salmon will pick up some sympathy votes thanks to the video's release and Hoffer may lose votes given his close association with Franco." - Shay Totten, 11/1/2010

"Releasing the video of Salmon's DUI stop last year did more harm to his opponent, Doug Hoffer, than it did Salmon. If anything, it made Salmon more likeable and human." - Shay Totten, 11/3/2010

@JCARTER: The press said .086. Salmon was close to the limit but when you're drinking and driving, should you really be flirting with the legal line? And besides, the dude had 5 drinks in 3 hours! If you think driving home after 5 drinks in 3 hours is a good idea, I'm guessing you're impaired and a danger behind the wheel. But your question was when does it become a scumbag move? Everyone's tolerance is different, obviously, so my opinion is that it becomes a scumbag move when you don't know your limit (or you knowingly exceed your limit) and still you choose to operate a motor vehicle anyway.

And my opinion is if you choose to have an affair and lie to your loved one, you have to suffer whatever embarrassing public tongue-lashings you receive, regardless of whether or not you're a politician.

"you have to suffer whatever embarrassing public tongue-lashings you receive"

...and unless video of each of your dalliances is aired on the evening news, you have not borne the proper consequences of your actions. You know, following your logic.


I remind you that not so long ago the legal limit was .1%

However, regardless he was over the legal limit, took his punishment and accepted it. He didn't try and fight it, or plea it down. It was a lapse in judgement, everyone has them.

With that said, I hardly think that 0.086% BAC constitutes someone so drunk that they are a scumbag drunk. Drinking in Driving ain't cool, but let's not make this out to be a BAC of .3% with a car full of toddlers.

The past is the past, as long as it you aren't repeating it, it isn't that relevant. I'm sure Bernie has gotten a speeding ticket or something at some point, do we need to drag it out every election cycle and put it up for display....or course not. If Salmon were to get another DUI that would be an issue. As it shows he isn't learning.

Jimmy, according to the official election results, Hoffer lost by 6.5 percentage points, not 9.

Hoffer - 105,081 (45.5%)
Salmon - 120,237 (52.0%)
Total votes - 231,221

That's 2.5% points more than the polls predicted, which is well within the poll's 4% margin of error. Again, if Salmon was in the lead all along and the results were what the polls predicted, how can Franco's involvement be blamed for Hoffer's loss?

And I submit that seeing your dad in cuffs might be exactly what the children needed to teach them a lesson. But again, it's Salmon's fault he was in the cuffs in the first place.

Jimmy: You are right. If video of a crime is available (which, in this day and age, is increasingly the case), the public should be free to view it. If video is not available, you are due whatever tongue-lashing you receive.

And JCARTER, I agree. The past is the past. In the 2010 election, Salmon had to answer for what had happened to him since the previous election. Just like Shumlin had to answer for his shady encounter with the traffic law. If Bernie gets a speeding ticket before the next election, he should have to answer for that during the next election. What's fair is fair.

Well thank God John Franco taught Salmon's kids a lesson, because that's certainly his job.

"How can Franco's involvement be blamed for Hoffer's loss?"

Why didn't you ask Totten that around election time? But you go ahead, keep screeching for me to prove an opinion. You really are a Hoffer devotee, aren't you?

I pointed out Jimmy's inaccurate data and he responded with a defensive retort calling me a Hoffer devotee. I think this proves once and for all that he really is human and not Watson!

And I voted for Salmon as I have each year he's run because I had no problems with the job he had done, and I think most everyone deserves a second chance ... even those who do stupid drunk, scumbag things.

This has been fun, but it's time to start the weekend. Cheers, everyone! Remember, don't drink and drive :)

One more thing: "keep screeching for me to prove an opinion." Hello, pot, I'm kettle.

BB, if it will help you get through the day, I offer my mea culpa, my numbers were off by 2.5%. Salmon only won by 160% of the margin predicted by the VPR poll. Hopefully this will put an end to your run of comments demanding that I prove what was clearly an opinion.

"Hello, pot, I'm kettle."

Guess you weren't ready for the weekend after all. Where, exactly, did I ask you to prove an opinion?

So, let me get this straight. DWI - bad, but not that bad, really. Public official being held up to the light - awful.

Glad to see we have our priorities straight here.

Salmon was held up to the light wrt his DUI long before Franco's failed attempt to beat him. The act of suing for that tape and putting it on the news was awful for Salmon's family, but it was more pathetic than awful in general.

Any of you silly heads know any victims of drunk driving? One 5 ounce glass of wine puts a woman weighing 120 pounds at .04 and it has been proven that impairment, ie not being clear-headed and able to make good choices, such as starting and stopping, braking, discerning proper moves to make or not, starts at .04. Most people in Montpelier, out for dinner, kill of a liter of wine then drive home, DUH! Vermonters have learned very little about DUI, which is what our state is. Most appear to NOT give a damn, hell they made it home. Well it isn't about that you made it home, it is about what might have happened if and when you didn't make it home. IF you must drink, do not drive and perhaps only do your drinking at home. Salmon admitted his mistake, has spoken out and has stopped drinking. He has learned a very valuable lesson. In California, the court punishment for driving under the influence is to attend and watch an autopsy. Many leave vomiting, and they stop drinking. Get my drift?

This thread is epic. It starts with someone to the right of Bernie lamenting that he isn't held accountable for the "despicable" things he's done and then four posts later, Jimmy begin lamenting that Salmon is held too accountable for the things he's done.

Perhaps we need to have a Vermont Blog Commenter summit wherein we decide what the appropriate level of accountability should be based on the action.

Lets get started!
-Three page fundraiser letter with one objectionable line? Recall.
-Drunk Driving Arrest? Four page article in one newspaper. Media blackout. Maybe a slap on the wrist.
-Going the Governor's Speed on the Highway? Instant video release.

"Salmon took the consequences."

The hell he did.

Watch the video. Salmon tried the "don't you know who I am" defense. He tries the "why don't you cops go out and catch some REAL criminals" defense. He pulls the "I served in Iraq and arresting me means you hate America" card.

It's only after Salmon has been cuffed and placed in the back seat of the police car that his demeanor changes into something resembling acceptance of responsibility, and even then he tries to suck up to the cop by saying he served as an enlisted man and didn't obtain an officer's commission because he thinks of himself as just one of the guys.

Tom Salmon is a weaselly politician. He used Democrats to get into office, then showed them that for him loyalty only goes as far as the last campaign contribution.

He mishandled his office. There was an embezzlement of hundreds of thousands of dollars from the state government over several years, and it went undetected by Salmon.

Salmon is personally abusive. Just look at the e-mail he sent Shay Totten:

Tom Salmon doesn't deserve the office he holds. I HOPE he runs against Bernie Sanders in 2021 so that Sanders can end Salmon's political "career" once and for all.


"-Drunk Driving Arrest? Four page article in one newspaper. Media blackout. Maybe a slap on the wrist."

really? That's it? You must not follow the paper much.

Moreover you don't see the difference between Salmon getting a DUI, doing his punishment, quiting drinking and this year serving as a DD for his Christmas party, and Bernie unapologetically using a tragic event to drum up campaign funds?

Maybe we should have a beer summit, that is apparantly how Obama handles false and mischaracterizations.

Ted Kennedy had quite the political career driving drunk so did his kid Patrick.
Who cares.

Neil, Franco's brilliant move had nothing to do with holding anyone accountable. That had already happened by definition. It had to do, by his own admission, with helping his buddy Hoffer's faltering campaign. Whoops.

1R14thS, Salmon made a brief case for why he wasn't going to run away to avoid being put in cuffs (not avoid being arrested), and then immediately apologized. You do your cause a disservice by distorting and outright fabricating facts.

@Jimmy - Um, Salmon had no idea the cuffs were in play when he played the "you know I'm a state auditor, right?" card. Check the video at the 28:23:31 mark. He was playing that card to get out of the breathalyzer test and avoid getting in trouble, not to make a case that he wasn't going to run away. So it seems you have done your cause a disservice by distorting the facts. But facts don't matter in the end, right, because this was "clearly an opinion." Make up your mind. Facts or opinion?

@Jcarter - "I hardly think that 0.086% BAC constitutes someone so drunk that they are a scumbag drunk." First, the roadside test recorded a BAC of .095. It was later at the barracks and after burping once or twice that he recorded a .086. Second, let's not gloss over the fact that, as the cop said, "you haven't been drinking in awhile so you're on your way down." Stowe to Montpelier isn't that short of a drive (especially the route Salmon chose). My guess is he started the drive between 1% and 1.1%.

That should be the 23:28:31 mark.


"First, the roadside test recorded a BAC of .095. It was later at the barracks and after burping once or twice that he recorded a .086. "

First, the roadside test may have record .095, a.) that's not used in court and b.) it's still below what was consider okay to drive only a few years ago (.01%) so I stand by my statement that he wasn't 'scumbag drunk'.

Burping by the way will have the effect of artificially inflating the breathlyzer.

What you guess he started at isn't relevent. Facts?

Regardless, Salmon has served the time for his crime. Let's let stop beating a dead horse here. It's not as if this article is reporting DUI-2

I mentioned the burping because it's a well-known stall tactic used to give yourself more time to register a lower BAC. My apologies for not clarifying that, though, I didn't realize I would need to spell it out for anyone.

And Salmon may have been punished, but he obviously hasn't learned his lesson if he blames others for embarrassment suffered by his family. He's the one who brought up the "dead horse" in the first place when he blamed others for the pain his DUI caused his family.

"Salmon had no idea the cuffs were in play"

Yeah, I'm sure he didn't realize that cuffs are involved in an arrest. "I am not going to run away or need handcuffs" was his explanation for the statement, and I have no reason to doubt him.

"Make up your mind. Facts or opinion?"

Some aspects of this constitute fact, some opinion. As a Hoffer supporter, it's unsurprising that you're having difficulty differentiating the two.

Jimmy -
Obviously you lack a natural sense of logic. Either that or you are so blinded by right wing hatred that what little sense of logic you do have escapes you at the moment. Tom Salmon has proven over and over again that he isn't made out of the same stuff as his father, is not fit to hold public office and needs to find something else to do. If you, Jimmy, can name one thing that Tom Salmon has ever done to further the public interest and not just his own, I'm all ears.

"Blinded by right wing hatred," yeah Salmon is practically George W. You crack me up.

Salmon has a partial list of accomplishments on his site, go look it up. And next time you accuse someone of "lacking a natural sense of logic," at least try to apply it to an argument, rather than just randomly throwing it into the middle of a whiny little outburst.

People, tone it down, please.

Debate the pros and cons of Tom Salmon's legacy all you want, but don't snipe at each other. Thanks.

@ BB:

"Driving drunk is a scumbag move. And when you commit a crime, especially one as dangerous as that, every part of that crime should be made public record ... especially when you're running for a public office and serving at the pleasure of the very same people whom you put in danger when you drove drunk in the first place. I don't call that progressive, I call that responsibility."

Is speeding a scumbag move? Maybe, or maybe not, but it can be just as dangerous as driving at .86. Is "accidentally" pulling out your Senate ID card instead of your license a scumbag move? I'd say so. Is saying, "Hey, maybe you'll be working for me someday" a scumbag move? I'd say so.

@Murphy: Yes, trying to abuse your power to get out of a speeding ticket is a scumbag move. (Who said it wasn't?) Though, I think I'd be inclined to call Shumlin sleazy instead of a scumbag for that but that's my personal semantic choice. What I will say is I think driving drunk is a worse crime than driving 16 mph over the speed limit while sober. Both are illegal and dangerous but one is far worse in my eyes. And the punishments for the respective crimes seem to suggest the law agrees with me. So if we call Shumlin a scumbag, we need to call Salmon a bigger scumbag, in my opinion at least.

Oh, and for what it's worth, on a scale of scumbag-ness, I think both acts are much much worse than using the courts to gain access to a DUI stop. Again, in my opinion.

Certainly not making excuses for a DUI, but a few points of differentiation are that Franco's act was deliberate, done with full knowledge of the impact he'd have on Salmon and his family, and he has never apologized for it, even though it did plenty of harm and zero good.

BTW I see senior citizens driving around every day that are far more dangerous behind the wheel stone cold sober than a 50 year old man at .086. I guess they're all scumbags too.


You have a really warped perspective. Salmon was punished for his DUI and did what he was ordered to do. Because someone dragged the event through the mud and further embarrassed his family that of course is his fault and indicates he hasn't learned his lesson? He didn't learn his lesson because some poltical hungry guy had his hired thug drag out the dirt....hmmmm, Yeah I don't think so Chief.

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